Cosplay has always been a major part of my life, as this is something I have been doing for 5 years now. So I felt like it was something that I should share with my readers. Through this hobby, I have learned so much and made many friends. In this post, I hope to explain to you what cosplay is all about, and how you (yes you!), can cosplay like a boss.
Featured Image credit goes to LiftedGeek.
What is Cosplay?
This is the most common question that I receive when I tell people that I cosplay. Cosplay is the contraction of the word, “costume” and “play”, a term which is Japanese in origin. The act of cosplay can go as far back as the 80s, if not earlier. Cosplay is usually when individuals dress up as fictional characters from movies, anime, cartoons and more. But it is not just limited to these media, as I have seen individuals dress up as internet memes or even copy the iconic costumes of pop culture icons.
Individuals can choose how they want to go about cosplaying a character. Here are some of the ways this is done:
- Commission – in which an individual would get their costume made for them by a seamstress or experienced cosplayer. In this case, your costume is made to your size and preference.
- Buying – there are some websites online in which individuals can buy the complete costume
- Making your own – as it sounds, this is where you make your own costume. This can be done by sewing the clothes, styling the wigs, making the accessories and even making the shoes yourself.
Cosplayers can then show off their work by attending local pop culture conventions. In which they can have their photos taken, interact with like-minded folks and even take part in competitions. Some people cosplay competitively, in contests or masquerades. In these contests, people go on stage and act as their chosen characters would. Some do musical performances or even create skits. At the end, cosplayers are awarded based on their points, with points given to craftsmanship, their performance and how well they embody the character.
Cosplay as a Profession
With the rise of cosplay in the media, a new type of cosplayer emerged, known as “cosplay model” and “professional cosplayer”. A cosplay model is a cosplayer who may be used to promote companies at conventions or events. It can be considered a subset of promotional modelling. Sometimes the cosplayer may be provided the costume they are expected to wear, but many have stated that they have to make their own costume used in promotions. A professional cosplayer, is a cosplayer whose income comes primarily from the act of cosplaying or cosplay related activities. Despite the term being a recent one, it is still very rare for individuals to have reached this point in cosplay. Two big names in cosplay that are considered professionals are Yaya Han and Jessica Nigri. Both cosplayers make money from their prints and guest appearances at cons, with Yaya also securing her own sewing pattern and fabric line; Nigri on the other hand makes about $28,000 USD a month from her Patreon subscriptions alone.
How to Cosplay
Now that you’ve been brought up to speed about what cosplay is about, you may be interested in trying it out for yourself. In this section I’ll be walking through with you, the steps of how to cosplay like the boss you are.
Pick Your Character
The very, absolutely very first thing that you need to do before you pick up that hot glue gun, is decided on who you’re going to portray. For me personally, this is almost the hardest part, especially because there’s so many characters that I would like to dress up as. Maybe you want to become your favourite character, or you want something within your skill range. With cosplay, you can become whoever you wish to be, regardless of your race, body type or gender. That is what makes cosplay a whole lot of fun. I almost always recommend going simple and easy to do if it’s your first time cosplaying. That way you can work your way up. Unless you’re buying or commissioning your costume, in which case it doesn’t matter. But it definitely does if you’re making it yourself, you don’t want to become overwhelmed and then rage-quit.
After choosing your character and you’ve decided that you’re going to stick with them, you need to gather reference images of the character. This is important for the next step, of getting into cosplay. If you choose to make your costume yourself, you’ll need to have images that you can reference back to in order to break down each aspect of the character. References also give you an overall look of the character from different angels and show detailing that you might have otherwise looked over. If you’re buying, you’ll want to compare the items online match back to the original character. And finally, if your costume is being commissioned, you might need to send the images to the seamstress in order for her to have a better idea of the character.
Your Method for Making Cosplay
So now that you’ve chosen your character, gathered references. It’s now time to figure out, how the heck am I going to make this costume? As stated above, there’s three ways to make your costumes, doing it yourself, buying online or commissioning it. You can also mix and match the different methods as well. Like you may buy your wig, get the costume commissioned because no sewing machine, and then making the props yourself. Any cosplayer would tell you that they have their strong points and weak points when it comes to cosplay. For myself, I’m pretty decent at props and accessories, however I don’t know how to sew at all. I also have friends who are boss at painting so I may ask them to help me with adding details to my base paint job.
Breaking down The Pieces and Budgeting
This step is especially important if you’re making your cosplay yourself. You’ll want to break down the pieces of your cosplay, which pieces need to be bought, what needs to be made and the materials needed to make it. This can also be done if your cosplay isn’t being commission from head to toe.
Then you’ll be going into budget. If being store-bought, you’ll want to calculate the total cost of your cosplay along with shipping. If being commissioned, your seamstress should give you a breakdown of the materials that needs to be bought and the cost for their labour. But if made by yourself, you need to budget everything yourself. This is why breaking down the cosplay into pieces is helpful. It’s also good to go at least a month before you decide to start making your cosplay and record the cost of all the items you need to get. It would suck if you went one day and found you’d have to spend more than you intended on certain items.
Time Management and Making your Costume
Always be weary of the time you have to make the cosplay. If you’re making it for some event, think about making a schedule for yourself to follow. Leave enough time for you to try on your costume and make any necessary adjustments. If you’re making it just for fun, then time isn’t as big of an issue, and it’s more than fine to take your time. There’s also plenty of resources online that you can view from the easiest “closet” cosplays to bigger works of art. Furthermore, you don’t ever really have to re-invent the wheel. You can look at what others have done with same character and adapt it to suit. That also saves you a lot of money in the long run.
Practice Hair and Makeup
In cosplay, certain costumes call for you to change up how you normally do your makeup. It’s always good to practice until you find a look that you’re comfortable with. Likewise, you may want to style the wig in a way so that it suits your face. This is especially true for when you need to cut your bangs to frame your face. Finally, if you’re wearing contacts, you might want to practice putting them in and taking them out.
Try it on
Once you’ve completed your costume, you can then try on your costume. This is important because you want to make sure everything fits right. You can also make easy adjustments to your costume and add finishing touches. If you’re unsure of how you look, ask a close friend or family member to give you their opinion and maybe a suggestion on an area that needs improving.
Now that you’ve followed all of the steps, you can step out in public with your first cosplay. Just remember, once you’re happy with the outcome, no one’s opinion really matters. Like I said before, cosplay is all about enjoying yourself and having fun. Don’t forget to take pictures if you want to show off your cosplay to your friends and family.
So that’s it guys. With this post, you’re well on your way to becoming an awesome cosplayer. If you have any questions relating to cosplay, you can leave it in the comment section down below. I’m more than willing to spread the knowledge about and the love of cosplay to everyone.